On this day, on July 3rd, 1915, heavyweight, Gene Tunney made his professional debut against Bobby Dawson. Tunney was 18 years old at the time and stopped Dawson via eighth-round TKO.
Tunney, who turned professional in a ten-round fight, unheard of in the modern era of boxing, recounted in a biography about his life written by Jack Cavanaugh, that he had knocked down Dawson in the seventh and Dawson didn’t answer the bell for the eighth round.
The Tunney legacy
Tunney is the classic legend, who stuck between eras. One of the most talented heavyweights up until this point, and well ahead of his time in terms of defensive skill. Tunney, was Larry Holmes before Larry Holmes, as his marquee wins over Jack Dempsey seemingly did nothing more than irritate passionate fight fans.
The reason was - Tunney was a technical fighter, not unlike Joey Maxim, and Dempsey embodied raw violence that drew people to his fights. While the craftsman and practitioners appreciated Tunney - the average sports fan in that era seemingly felt deflated that the cultural folk hero, Dempsey had lost to Tunney.
Tunney inhabited the same space as Dmitry Bivol currently occupies in boxing in which is a really good fighter, who is difficult to beat, and doesn’t quite have the fanbase that they both truly should have had or have. His lone career loss was to the enigma of the sport of boxing, Harry Greb, a fighter who you will hear many tall tales about so much so that is hard to tell what is true and what is an exaggeration.
Tunney is a modern great before the world was modern. Closer to the days of horse and buggy - then driving from city to city, Tunney was one of the pioneers who paved the way for future greats such as Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman.